The new Olloclip Telephoto + CPL Lens aims to help iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners fix one of the phone’s greatest weaknesses. Apple makes one of the best smartphone cameras on the iPhone 6 Plus. However, it’s difficult to get close up shots because there’s no telephoto lens. Using the zoom feature in the Camera app can distort image clarity, degrading quality. The software takes each pixel and expands them, resulting in blurry shots and jagged lines. A telephoto lens that zooms in can fix this problem
We tested the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens kit and consider it one of the best iPhone 6 accessories available. However, it doesn’t include a telephoto zoom lens. Instead it includes a fish-eye lens and wide-angle lens and two extreme close-up macro lenses. It’s a great kit, but most of the time I want to zoom into subjects at a distance, not take close extreme close up shots or get wide-angle shots. That’s why the Olloclip Telephoto + CPL Lens ($99.99) makes the perfect companion to the 4-in-1 kit. Most iPhone 6 photographers should make the Olloclip Telephoto + CPL Lens their first choice. Here’s why we like it so much.
Olloclip Telephoto Lens
The kit comes with two different lenses. Let’s start with the most useful for most iPhone 6 photographers. The Telephoto lens doubles the zoom level of the built-in iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus lens. Since the built-in camera rates at 29mm focal length, the Telephoto will convert that to about 58mm.
Here are a few unedited sample shots to show the zoom level. These first comparison shots come from a banquet I attended.
In this shot below we get closer to the banquet speaker.
Compare it to the second shot below using the camera software’s pinch-to-zoom without the Olloclip. We get a superior shot with the Olloclip above. Notice how it looks pixelated, especially in the woman’s face, resulting in a horrible photo. The tiny books she’s holding show jagged edges. We don’t see these kinds of jagged edges anywhere in the shot above.
The Olloclip does a better job for zooming in and makes it worth the $100 for those who take a lot of pictures that require zooming.
Olloclip CPL Lens
The CPL lens, or circular polarizer, works in one of three ways. First, it snaps onto the connector on the other end of the Olloclip mount from the telephoto lens. This connector doesn’t change the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus camera lens at all until the person adds the filter. Notice in the image below that there’s nothing covering the front facing camera on the Olloclip. Reverse the mount to cover the rear facing camera too.
A circular polarizer will “darken skies, manage reflections, or suppress glare from the surface of lakes or sea” (from Wikipedia). This results in landscapes with a deep blue sky and less reflection on surfaces like glass or on water. A circular polarizer adjusts the amount of filtration the polarizer provides by turning the filter.
Snap the filter onto this mount and it filters the naked iPhone camera. Use the included adapter to fit the filter over either of the lenses on the Olloclip 4-in-1 kit, as seen in the first image in this section above. Without the adapter the filter fits on the telephoto lens in this kit.
Take a look at the comparison below. First, here’s the telephoto shot without the Olloclip CPL using the instead the Telephoto lens.
Here’s a telephoto shot with the CPL below. Notice that the blue sky looks deeper and the colors pop a little more. These shots came straight out of the camera without any edits.
Next, this shot didn’t use the filter and it’s not using any of the other Olloclip lenses. It’s purely the iPhone 6 Plus camera alone.
Here’s a shot below with only the filter applied directly to the iPhone 6 Plus camera without any other Olloclip lenses. The effect isn’t as pronounced in this comparison. However, there is more blue in the sky.
For the shot below, the Olloclip wide-angle lens from the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens kit widens the shot. Notice the part of the building in the upper right corner. However, there’s no filter installed in this shot below.
The same vantage point from above, but with the filter covering the wide-angle lens from the Olloclip 4-in-1 lens kit. It deepens the color of the sky and the trees in this shot below.
The Olloclip Telephoto + CPL adds some color to these shots. The filter alone doesn’t call for the $99 price tag, however the two together makes the kit a worthwhile option for serious iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus photographers who want to take better outdoor shots or get closer to their subject when it’s not possible to move vantage points, like at a concert, a sporting event or with portraits like the one below supplied by Olloclip.
The hardware design of the Olloclip makes carrying around lenses somewhat convenient. They created a useful plastic holder than comes with a loop to connect to a key ring. There’s also a lanyard to hold the assembly around the user’s neck. I put both Olloclip kits on one and carry it around my neck when I know I’ll want it for taking shots.
Pull the Olloclip off the green, blue or black holder and snap it onto the phone. Turn it around to use the other lens.
Olloclip also supplied lens covers, a small holder for the circular polarizer and adapter (in the upper left corner of the image above), and lint free bags to protect the lens. The lint free cloth doubles as a cleaning cloth to remove finger smudges, which easily build up on the lens when the user snaps them on to the iPhone. Unfortunately, the bags don’t quite fit. If they made them just a half a centimeter wider and longer they’d fit better over the Olloclip. The smaller bag for the adapter and CPL don’t fit those accessories at all.
The Olloclip fits iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The user must pull out a tiny black plastic insert (it’s resting on the cloth bag in the image above) and install a supplied alternate insert to use it with an iPhone 6 Plus. It ships with the insert for the iPhone 6 already installed. It’s a little hard to remove, but most people don’t need to switch them unless they own both phones.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Anyone who wants to take shots from a distance will love the Telephoto lens. It does a nice job and doesn’t degrade the image quality. The circular polarizer won’t wow serious photographers and most point-and-shoot photographers might not fully understand the need for one. However, try using it on pictures of scenes with blue skies, reflective surfaces or water and you will notice a slight improvement in image quality.
At $99, it’s only for serious shooters. However, I love it and recommend it highly.